I know this post won’t resonate with many people however it was requested and as it’s something I have recently gone through I thought I would share my tips for others considering it (do not fear, my blog will be back to its usual theme next week). If you had asked me a year or two ago if I would have ever considered going vegan I would have probably scoffed and said no, I was a meat lover who didn’t really know anything about veganism accept for the widely accepted ‘angry hippy’ stereotype. However my boyfriend and I decided about a year ago to go vegetarian and thanks to team internet I found the information that was missing in order to go vegan.
1. One step at a time
No matter why you’re going vegan, it’s important to take it at your own pace. You will inevitably read or see things online telling you to ‘Go Vegan overnight’ however this isn’t realistic for a lot of people. Admittedly I did pretty much do it overnight however I live in a vegetarian household, in a vegan friendly city- it was really easy for me. If you live with meat eaters, you don’t buy your own food or there aren’t that many vegan friendly places around you, it’s going to take you some time. There are three ways you can transition to a vegan lifestyle.
– One vegan day a week: Start with one vegan day a week and add a day every week that goes by. At the end of seven weeks, you should be 100% vegan. Score!
– Cut it out product by product: Do you love the taste of bacon? Cut it out straight away, start with your favourite or most used animal products and work your way down. By the time you get to your least favourite product (beef for me) it will seem like breeze.
– Go vegetarian first: This one may the most viable for a lot of people as dairy can often be harder to cut out than meat. Go vegetarian and get used to living a lifestyle free of meat, once you’re used to it, get started on cutting out dairy and eggs.
Once your diet is vegan, you can then get started on making your household products, cosmetics and clothing items vegan although this maybe harder for some and take more time (but that’s okay). It is okay to use and wear what you already have, just make a commitment to buy cruelty free from now on.
You’ve decided to go vegan but do you really know why? Is it for health reasons or ethical reasons or both? Either reason is obviously fine however I found the transition a lot easier after educating myself in excruciating depth about the meat, dairy and egg industries. I went vegan for ethical reasons and I needed to make sure that I was making the right decision so I trawled the internet, reading everything from scientific papers to watching YouTube videos and documentaries. I also looked for evidence both for and against veganism. Once I was sure that I was doing the ethically and scientifically sound thing, I started researching diet as well because health is equally important.
Here are some resources:
There is plenty more out there but I’ve detailed a bit of everything here but you will find plenty more on your journey. Let me know if you clicked any of the links.
3. Peoples disagreement
Vegans make up 1% of the world’s population so you’re going to find that basically everyone you know or meet on a daily basis will most likely disagree with you or not really know anything about veganism. It’s important not to let the transition make you angry and confrontational (as it does with lots of people) it’s important to remain kind, calm and answer any questions people have in a nice way. I have noticed three responses when someone finds out I’m now vegan:
– Admiration: They’ll be proud of you, they want to know more and even though they may eat meat they are really sympathetic to the causes. You can have frank, honest discussions without them getting offended. I love these people.
– Neutrality: They really don’t care that much about your personal choices and neither of you will really feel the need to talk about it. You must respect this person’s choice as pushing your opinions on someone that is clearly not bothered by your decision isn’t going to help anything and it may damage your relationship with them. When the time is right, they may ask or they may not. These people are awesome as it’s not a big deal to them.
– They reject it with humor or anger: They will either try and make jokes about it (plants feel pain guys!) by belittling your decisions or they’ll get angry and offended by the fact that you have decided to change. They may close off and get quite defensive even when you don’t say anything. These kinds of people are not really worth talking to about it at all.
I have to say the majority of my friends and family have been fine about it. The third reaction I have only really got from strangers that seem to somehow notice I’m not eating meat or dairy even when I haven’t said anything. It’s important to be ready for all kinds of reactions and you must be okay with the fact that most people will not agree with you. I’m not saying you should shut your mouth and not talk about it because you absolutely should, it’s just important to pick your battles, be respectful and only engage in conversation with someone when the other person actually wants to. I tend not to bring it up unless someone asks me.
As much as I stated you have to be okay with people disagreeing, it’s equally important to get the support of your friends and family particularly if you’re still at school and thus living at home. My best advice for younger people living with omnivorous parents would be to sit them down and thoroughly explain your reasoning, explain what veganism is and why you’re doing it. Reassure them that it’s not ‘extreme’ or ‘dangerous’ show them the evidence behind it being one of the healthiest diets and show them the material that helped you go vegan and hopefully they will understand and support you. Lots of parents that don’t know better can be wary, they will hear ‘vegan’ and hear ‘eating disorder’ or ‘extreme diet’ but when you educate them and they can see that a vegan diet is one of huge abundance (no restriction required) they should be on board. For us slightly older people, it’s a lot easier although we may still have to gain our friends and families support by explaining our reasons however you may be surprised that with your closest friends and family, they will just say ‘cool okay’ and you will move on.
5. Online Community
As an avid lover of YouTube, as soon as I went vegan I looked for the best vegan channels to follow. What struck me straight away was that the biggest channels lived up to the ‘stereotype’ that I had just learned was wrong. They seem to always be involved in some kind of childish drama and a lot of their videos are of them dramatically calling other people out for not being vegan. They also seem to spread an almost cultist way of looking at veganism, they promote a lot of unscientific views, specific vegan diets and anyone that doesn’t subscribe to their specific version of veganism is a ‘fake’ or a ‘shill’. My best advice would be to really look long and hard for positive, normal vegans on YouTube because they are out there and they are amazing plus you can always start a channel yourself. These are my top 5 vegan channels:
– Supreme Banana: She does ‘What I eat in a day’ videos and she ‘Veganizes’ popular foods and is just all round awesome.
– Jon Venus: This guy is a fitness/vegan channel. He’s a funny, down to earth guy that is very positive about veganism.
– Stella Rae: This girl is literally 18 so I feel weird watching her stuff but she is just so relaxed and positive it’s hard not to like her.
– Bite Size Vegan: When I first saw her channel I was like ‘stereotype alert’ however she is really great, she does loads of activism and has tons of educational material on her site.
– Niomi Smart: If you love Tanya Burr or Zoella, you’ll love Niomi. She posts lifestyle, fitness and food videos. She’s on a plant based diet so is a great source of inspiration for recipes.
6. Try not to let it get to you. I have always loved animals so when I learnt the true nature of the meat, dairy and egg industries I was devastated. I had claimed to love animals yet I had eaten their body parts for most of my life, I had consumed the products of abuse, fear and pain and yet I could not see it. For the first couple of weeks I would sit in my room and cry over slaughter house footage, I would cry as I watched baby chicks of the egg industry being chucked into a grinder and I would feel extremely anxious and panicked most of the day. This has only started to subside fairly recently and it still gets to me sometimes. We vegans and vegetarians could quite easily fall into a depression knowing that every week in the UK- we kill 2.5 million animals in ways that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. However you cannot live like that especially in a world where 99% of the population either doesn’t know what’s going on in detail or doesn’t really care. It would eat you up inside. My best advice would be to try and focus on the positives- progress IS being made and just by you even trying to make this change, you are helping, you are part of the solution. Don’t let it become your whole life (unless you want it to).
In summary, I would say to take it at your own pace, do your research and get online and real life support. If you slip up or make mistakes, do not worry- you are human and after a lifetime of eating meat, dairy and eggs mistakes are inevitable. Although going vegan hasn’t changed my life, it has changed me and how I look at the world. I hope to see a future without the needless killing of innocent animals for food, cosmetics and fashion and I am happy to say that I am no longer contributing to it. None of us are perfect, none of us can live a life and cause no harm, even by existing I am causing harm to some in an indirect way however we can control where we put our money and we can control the industries we are supporting. I hope this was helpful for anyone considering this lifestyle and even if you’re not, I hope this was informative for you
Stay Strong xoxox